200 SEZs likely to be exempt from 18.5% MAT
NEW DELHI : Enterprises operating from over 200 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the Country are likely to be exempted from the minimum alternative tax (MAT) of 18.5 per cent on their book profits. The Union Commerce Ministry is understood to have made a strong case for removing MAT on SEZ units on the ground that giving this tax benefit would revive domestic manufacturing and provide the much-needed boost to exports, declining in each of the last 13 months.
In addition, the Commerce Ministry has also put in place an effective monitoring mechanism that is closely looking at what remedial measures can be taken to promote exports in some of India's key markets. The free trade agreements (FTAs) are going to be examined from that perspective, as and when they come up for review.
Meanwhile, an attempt is being made to use India's services exports strength and build that into its negotiations for agreements for merchandise trade.
Simultaneously, an effort is being made to strengthen the legal framework for the plantation industry, so that this sector can also play a more useful role in exports and in domestic markets.
The latest move to consider removal of MAT on SEZ units follows a detailed representation made by SEZ companies to the Commerce Ministry last month. It was argued that the 204-odd SEZs have an estimated 4,122 operating units, engaged in exports of Rs 4.6 lakh crore, which accounted for almost a fifth of India's total exports in 2014-15. With total investments estimated at Rs 3.63 lakh crore in these SEZ units, they employ around 1.5 million workers.
Those arguing in favour of abolishing MAT on SEZ units point out that the move would also help counter the steady rise in imports of a large number of items from various developing countries and China, which have begun flooding the Indian markets with their products in view of a downturn in international trade.
The removal of MAT is being justified not only for giving a boost to the Government's Make In India programme, but also for keeping a check on imports of a large number of items.